NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 20 – Organisers of the 13th edition of the Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year Award (SOYA) have announced an increase in prize money that will see the overall winner pocket Sh1 million when the event will be held January 20, 2017 at Nairobi’s Carnivore Grounds.
This is a massive increase from the previous editions where the overall winner took home Sh150, 000 and speaking during the launch, event patron and founder Paul Tregat said it’s the best way to recognize the sportsmen.
“We saw it important to increase the prize money based on the sponsorship that we have received and also to raise the profile of the award itself but more importantly is how we will be able to recognize our sportsmen and women in a big way so that they can feel appreciated,” Tergat, a former marathon world record holder said on Tuesday during the launch.
“The year 2016 was one of the interesting years that we have had sports wisebe it the Rugby Sevens, Harambee Starlets, World Youth Athletics Championships, women volleyball and the bigger one was the Rio Olympics and Paralympics. In all this events we were represented and it’s only fair that we have a befitting event that this sportsmen deserves,” Tergat added.
The annual gala will be graced by retired Ethiopian long-distance track and road running athlete Haile Gebrasellasie as the chief guest.
“Haile is a good friend of mine and a family friend too and he is coming as the Chairman of the Ethiopia Athletics Federation. We want to show him how we do things in Kenya so we are excited to have him in the country,” Tergat stated.
The event seeks to recognize outstanding achievements by Kenyan sportsmen and women where there will be16 categories covering various disciplines as well as individuals, federations, coaches, persons with special needs and community heroes.
The year 2016 has been a great year for Kenya following record setting performances at the Rio Olympics, where the country emerged top in Africa and 15th globally with a 13-medal haul; 6 gold, 6 silver and 1 bronze.
Prior to the Olympics, the Rugby 7s team made Kenya proud in April with a historic performance at Singapore Sevens after a dominating 30-7 victory over power house Fiji in the finals.
The great shows of prowess from Kenyan teams and individual athletes is expected to make this year’s Safaricom SOYA Awards extremely competitive, as dozens of nominees tough it out for the top spot.
“This has been an outstanding year for Kenyan sportsmen and women and we are glad that their hard work will be awarded at a ceremony befitting their achievements,” Safaricom Director Strategy and Innovations, Joe Ogutu said.
“Despite the obvious challenges in the management of sports our commitment remains strong through our investment in the Safaricom Athletics Series, and the various partnerships that we have with stakeholders in the sports sector. We have supported this initiative for the last 13 years, investing well over Sh100 million in that time, and plan to continue supporting our athletes in the next year,” he added.
This year’s theme is “Inspiring Greatness”, and seeks to motivate athletes to remain focused and resilient while training, competing and even mentoring others.
Title sponsors Safaricom injected Sh 16 million towards the event with the funds used to cater for event logistics and prizes.
Public voting will kick off on Saturday, December 31, 2016. Sports fans will be able to vote for their favourite nominees in the various categories multiple times, before voting closes on Sunday January 15, 2017.
Voting can be done free of charge via SMS on *279#, as well as on Facebook / SOYA AWARDS (KENYA) and Twitter/ @soyaawards
Past SOYA winners include Olympic Champion and World Record Holder David Rudisha, Richard Matelong, Julius Yego, Simon Cherono, Ezekiel Kemboi, Vivian Cheruiyot, Nancy Langat, Ulinzi Football Club and Gor Mahia Football Club, among many others.